Monday, August 8, 2011

Creating a Decomposed Granite Pathway

     In the previous article I talked about what makes decomposed granite pathways (also known as DG) such an attractive alternative to concrete.  DG pathways typically cost $4-$6 per square foot for a contractor to install.  But you can do it yourself for half of that price. Now let’s go through the steps for creating a DG pathway;

1)  Using some rope, layout your pathway.  This will enable you to calculate the square footage of your project and help visualize the length and width of your pathway.

2)  Calculate the amount of DG you will need for your project.  Take the total square footage of your pathway and divide by 90.  That will give you the total cubic yards of DG you need to order.  1 cubic yard of DG will cover 90 square feet to a depth of 3 inches after the DG is compacted.  Here is a math example; Your pathway is 60 feet long by 3 feet wide, 60 x 3 = 180 square feet.  180 divided by 90 = 2 cubic yards of DG needed to cover the pathway.

3)  Select the color, KRC Rock has a terrific webpage that shows some of these colors.   Not all of the colors on their webpage are carried in stock and some are more expensive than others.
4)  When you order the DG make sure that the vendor pre-mixes a stabilizer solution with the DG.  This will make for a much more stable pathway in the long run.

5)  Next, using 3 inch tall synthetic bender boards, create a border for your pathway. You will need to secure the bender board in place with small garden stakes (6 inch stakes should do).  Small rocks can also be used to create the border as seen in the photo below.

6)  Excavate the soil down to the bottom of the bender boards.  You do not need a perfectly level surface, however the soil should be fairly firm.  If it is not, then run a compacter (see photo above for what a compacter looks like) on the soil to firm it up.

7)  Lay a heavy duty weed block down to stop weeds from coming up through your pathway.

8)  Put down a layer of DG approximately 1.5 inches deep.  Smooth it with a rake and then compact it with either a rolling drum or a gas powered compacter.  This layer should compact down to about an inch in thickness.

9)  Hose down the pathway lightly.  You are just trying to get the entire path slightly wet, but not enough to create puddles.

10)  Let the path dry for 6-8 hours, longer if the weather is cool and damp.

11)  Repeat steps 8-10 for the next layer, again, you should finish with a layer an inch thick.

12)  After the path is dry, lay the remaining amount of DG down and repeat steps 8-10.

13)  Once you have laid all the DG down and the path is dry (usually the next day).  Sweep any lose pebbles to the edge of the path and run the compacter along the entire path one more time.


  1. I am using rocks to border my path. I have dug my pathway and laid down my landscape fabric. I have also placed my stones but am not quite sure how to set them. Should I put a layer of sand in, set the stones, and then add the DG, or do I just dig a spot in the ground, put the stone in and pack dirt around? I am brand new to this stuff and doing it all myself. Thanks for any tips you can give me.

  2. Thank you for reading my blog and sending in a great question. The way that we built the DG path seen in the photo below was to dig a shallow trench about 2 inches deep and about 4 inches wide. The rocks were then laid in the trench. Dirt was then packed around the rocks on the outside edge of the border, and the DG on the inside. Notice in the photo that there is no pattern to the rocks, some large, some small, none of them are perfectly lined up. This irregularity makes the path seem more natural.

  3. Thank you so much for this site! I'm using this to hire workers and hope to have a dg path around my vineyard very soon....

  4. we are trying to determine an alternative to bender board (plastic or otherwise) and your rock border idea is great--FYI, in our total cost for the project, nearly 30% was slated for plastic bender board, which we have a real problem with--hopefully we can do either rocks or something else. thank you!

  5. granite countertops edmonton
    Thanks, you guys that is a great explanation. keep up the good work..

  6. Does anyone know a source for decomposed granite in Ontario, Canada? I would like to use it but none of the garden centers or landscapers have ever heard of DG. Is it the same as Granite screenings?


  7. Jim, it seems to be pretty rare here in the North East USA/Ontario. Common to rock quarries that have softer granite in the southern and western United States.

  8. Jim, I have active dogs that weigh around 50lbs. They tend to tear up the lawn when it is wet. Would a dg path stand up to dogs skidding around on it? How long are the binders effective and can they be reapplied?

  9. Great blog. Thanks for the info. I am going to build pathway in my backyard and not sure if want to use DG or pea gravel. I heard that DG can get too muddy when it rains. I have a slight slope towards the house but will install a french drain. Any comment about muddy/milky after rain?

  10. Where can I buy dg in Massachusetts? I've called a few places and nobody has heard of it. I live next to Worcester.

  11. This is a great blog! Thanks for sharing so much useful info!

  12. Part of the path I am creating has sand, somewhat hard but still loose sand. Can you lay DG on top of this?

  13. Curious... if I secure the bender boards down to the ground with 6 inch stakes, wouldnt that mean the bottom of the bender board is ON the surface of the ground? How then am I suppose to "excavate the soil down to the bottom of the bender boards?" Secondly, wouldnt the next step be to lower the bender boards down since they'd be attached to stakes that are now only about 1 inch in the ground? Strange directions...

  14. I am considering doing our verge in DG. We have removed all the plants and pea gravel that were there and are now down to dirt. In your explanation you mention using bender boards or rocks to line the path. In the verge I have a cement boarder created by the sidewalk and the curb length wise and cement driveways on each end. Would I still need bender boards or stones?